Jesus, Monarch (part 4): More Dispatches from the Kingdom

TO START

This week we’re talking humility as the path to exaltation. So, how about we take some time to not boast about ourselves but rather to exalt one another in Christ? Have group members draw the name of another group member (write member names on a piece of paper and put it in a bowl for drawing). Then, have them create a blue ribbon for that person with the words “God’s made me at awesome at _______.” Then have members award the ribbons (pin or tape them onto one another’s shirts).

You’ll need thick paper, markers, and safety pins or double sided tape.

TO DISCUSS

Justin started this week’s sermon with these two questions: Ever think you’re better than anybody else? Ever want credit for being better than other people?

Well? Do you? Give an example of a time you compared yourself to someone else in order to make yourself feel better. Funny and serious stories both welcomed.

Recap the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:9-14.

What do you find interesting or compelling about this story? Does it make you feel a certain way? Does it make you squirm? Explain.

Have you ever tried to justify yourself to God based on your good works? Tell your group about it. How’d it go?

Do you find yourself trying to do more good than the people around you in order to prove something or distinguish yourself? What are you trying to prove?

We said Sunday, A bad heart will nullify your good deeds. What can we do to be sure our heart is in the right place? What questions might we ask ourselves to take our heart’s temperature?

Consider this quote from John Stott:

“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to be saying to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”

  • Does reflecting on the cross have that effect on you? Why do you think that is?

  • D you regularly spend time contemplating the cross? What would it look like, practically speaking, to give more of your attention to the cross?

What would change if, instead of looking to other people to prove our worth (I’m better than they are), we instead looked at other people as equal participants in God’s mercy? How might some of your relationships inside the church be different? If you don’t need other Christians to be worse than you (and you don’t need to be “better” than other Christians), how does that affect the way you

  • Help/confront someone who’s struggling in sin?

  • Encourage (or don’t encourage) others?

TO READ

Our parable this week ends with this gem from Jesus: “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” That same phrase occurs as the bottom line in another of Jesus’ parables.

Read Luke 14:7-11.

What’s new in this parable? What’s the same as the parable in Luke 18? Which parable is more challenging to you? Why that one?

TO PRAY

Consider going around the circle and repeating, person by person, the tax collector’s prayer: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”